Rivers in Kazakhstan

Rivers of Kazakhstan have always played an important role in the life and history of Kazakhs. In fact, almost all main cities were founded on the banks of major rivers. Nowadays the rivers, especially in mountains, are attracting tourists for active holidays and recreation.
Largest rivers in the country are Irtysh, Yesil, Tobol, Ural, Syr Darya, Ili, Chu. The length of each of them is more than 1 000 km. Ural carries its waters to the basin of the Caspian Sea, Syrdarya flows into the Aral Sea, and Irtysh, Tobol and Yesil are waterways that feed the Arctic Ocean.

Some facts about rivers in Kazakhstan:
- There are about 7000 rivers with the length of more than 10 km.
- There are more than 39,000 permanent and temporary streams in total.

Arctic Ocean basin

 Irtysh is the main tributary of the River Ob. The total length of the river is 4,248 km, which  is the second largest figure among the rivers of the Asian region. The length of the Kazakh section of the Irtysh is 1835 km. Source of the river is located on the eastern slopes of the Mongolian Altai (border of Mongolia and China).
A section of the river before its confluence with the Zaisan Lake is called Black Irtysh. After Irtysh passes the Bukhtarma hydroelectric station, it is no longer called "Black Irtysh" but "White Irtysh".
It should be noted that in addition to Bukhtarma, there are two more hydropower stations on River Irtysh: Ust-Kamenogorsk and Shulbinsk. They are also located on the stretch of the river below Lake Zaisan.
Irtysh is navigable along 3,784 km. Navigation on the river begins in April and lasts until November.
Irtysh River is rich in fish. Fishes such as sturgeon, white salmon, sturgeon, pike, perch and crucian carp are encountered in it. Recently, wild carp, bream, perch and Baikal omul were released to the river. In Irtysh, there are about 17 tributaries, the largest of which are Tobol, Yesil and Uba Rivers.

Tobol's length is 591 km, basin area - 426 thousand km ². Source of the river lies at the eastern spurs of the Southern Ural and Turgay area of the country. River Tobol is navigable for a distance of 437 km from the mouth. Among the major tributaries of the River Tobol are Ui, Iset, Tura, Tavda and Ubagan. The river crosses the following cities: Lisakovsk, Rudny, Kostanay, Yalutorovsk, Kurgan, Tobolsk.

Yesil (Ishim) is the left and the longest tributary of the Irtysh. Its length is 2,450 km; basin area is 177 thousand km ². The river originates in the mountain range Niaz. The section from Petropavlovsk to Sergeevskiy Reservoir and the section between the village of Vikulovo and the mouth of the river are navigable. The main tributaries of Ishim are Rivers Koluton, Zhabay, Akkanburluk and Terisakkan. In the Kazakh part of the River Ishim there are two reservoirs - Vyacheslav and Sergeevskiy. Among the settlements located along the route of the river are: Kazakhstan's capital Astana, Atbasar, Yesil, Derzhavinsk, Sergeevka, Petropavlovsk and others.

Uba is the right tributary of Irtysh. The length of the river is 278 km, basin area - 9,850 km ². Uba is flowing through the territory of East Kazakhstan region. River is formed by the confluence of Rivers Black Uba and White Uba.

Caspian and Aral seas basin

Ural originates on the slopes of the top round hill (ridge Uraltau). The total length of the river is 2,428 km (the Kazakh section - 1082 km), basin area is 231 thousand km ². It should be noted that the watershed of the Ural is the sixth largest in the world. The river is navigable. Sturgeon, stellate sturgeon, carp, catfish, perch, bream are found in the river.
Among the tributaries of the Ural are Big Kizil, Tanalyk, Guberlya, Sakmara, Gumbeyka, Suunduk, Big Kumak and Or. A natural water boundary between Asia and Europe lies in the upper stream of Ural.
Upperural and Iriklinsk Reservoirs and the hydroelectric station Iriklino are located on River Ural. In Kazakhstan, River Ural crosses the following cities and towns: Uralsk, Zachagansk, Chapaev Taypak, Makhambet, Atyrau and Balykshi.

River Emba crosses Aktobe and Atyrau regions of Kazakhstan. Its length is 712 km, basin area - 40 400 km ². The river originates on the western slopes of Mugodzhar. Emba is flowing through the Underural plateau and the Caspian lowland. The river is strongly mineralized. There are two main tributaries of River Emba: the right is River Temir and the left is River Atsaksy. Oil and gas mining is active in the middle and lower streams of the river.
Until recently, scientists assumed that the River Emba is a geographical boundary that separates Europe and Asia. However, studies conducted in 2010 by specialists of the Russian Geographical Society, refuted this theory.

River Syrdarya is one of the longest rivers of Central Asia. The river crosses four Asian states along its route - Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. In Kazakhstan, two regions lies on the territory of the basin Syr Darya - the South-Kazakhstan and Kyzylorda. The length of the river is 2,212 km, the basin area is 219 thousand km ². Syrdarya is formed by the confluence of Rivers Naryn and Karadarya in the eastern part of the Ferghana Valley.
Before 1989, the river flowed into the Aral Sea, but as a result of shallowing of the lake and its separation into two parts, River Syr Darya began to fill up the northern part of once mighty Aral Sea, now called the "Small Sea". Several reservoirs such as Toktogul (Kyrgyzstan), Kairakkum (Tajikistan), Chardara and Koksaray (both owned by Kazakhstan) were created on the river. Syrdarya is the muddiest river in Kazakhstan, the turbidity of water in the reservoir is 1200 g / cc.mol. This is due to the fact that it blurs the loose earth rocks on its way.

Balkhash and Alakol Lakes basin

Ili River: riverhead is located in the Chinese part of the mountain Tien Shan at an altitude of 3,540 m. The length of the reservoir is 1,439 km, 815 km of which runs through the territory of Kazakhstan. River Ili flows into Lake Balkhash, thus making it partly freshwater. Large inflows of Ili are Turgen Talgar, Kurt, Chilika, Charyn, truncating.
The river is navigable up to the border with China and further upstream. Carp and pike are encountered in the waters of Ili. Muskrat, reed cats, Zhetysu pheasants, white-headed cranes are common along the shores and in the reeds.

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